All aglow in Vieques

Sunset in EsperanzaAs we mentioned last week, we now have access to a new set of satellite images and this, por fin, also includes Vieques, the little girl island. Once again, I'd like to point out that the images are not as good as San Juan's, but they are good enough to make anyone who's never been to Vieques, really, really want to go. Like someone I know whose name rhymes with John Jees, jeesh, that guy hasn't been hardly anywhere in Puerto Rico.

If you'd like to get some background about La Isla Nena, then the place to start is with the plaza in Vieques. Plaza Luis Muñoz Rivera is the central plaza in downtown Isabel Segunda. With Culebra and Vieques, we've started a new initiative to include a description of each municipality in the location (pushpin) of the central plaza of that municipality. Now for those keeping score at home, that's two down, seventy to go. At this rate, we'll be finished sometime next year...

Unless you're camping the place to stay is probably Martineau Bay Resort & Spa. However, as we mentioned here previously, that might have to wait until they finish their renovation. While there are plenty of other places to stay, you're probably not going to go to Vieques for the accommodations, chances are you'll want to head to Vieques for the adventure. And as you'll see below, Vieques is nearly unmatched in the Caribbean. Here are a few of the adventures to seek while you're there:

  • Mosquito Bay - Bahía Mosquito is a large bay on the south coast of Vieques. It is an impressive example of a bioluminescence that glows to life after dusk. When you jump into the bay after dark the water you begin to glow with the millions of dinoflagellitic bioluminescence. The best way to witness the magic is to take one of the local bio-bay tours offered by local tour companies. While you can reach the bay on your own, you'll need a four wheel drive and plan on being extra careful as you make your way on the dark and bumpy dirt road. Don't miss the collection of photos available on Flickr. Just click on the "Flickr" tab in the bubble.
  • Balneario Sun Bay - As the only public beach, Sun Bay is probably the most popular beach on Vieques. In addition, as part of the group of beaches administered by the Compañia de Parques Nacionales it offers the best facilities of any beach in Vieques, including picnic tables, fire pits, a huge parking lot, drinking fountains, trash cans, bathrooms, and lifeguards on duty during daylight hours. With an enormous stretch of white sand lined with palm trees and medium waves, the Sun Bay beach is one of Puerto Rico's hidden treasures.
  • Fortin Conde de Mirasol - This impressive fort was the last Spanish fort built in the New World. Built around 1845, the fort was neglected until the Puerto Rico Institute of Culture repaired it and installed a museum.

    Situated on a prominent hill that overlooks the town of Isabel II, the Count Mirasol Fort is a typical example of the XIX century Spanish fortification system. Construction on thr fort began in 1845 by order of the Governor of Puerto Rico at the time, Don Rafael de Aristegui y Vélez, who was also known as "The Count of Mirasol". The main purpose of the Fort was to offer a safe place from where the Spanish government could maintain control of the island and defend it against enemies on neighboring islands.

    Due to a lack of budget on the main island of Puerto Rico, the fort was never finished and was never used as an element of defense against the neighboring islands. However, the fort gained historic significance as a political center for the execution of those who were against the Spanish administration and its interests.
  • Faro Punta MulasFaro Punta Mulas - The Punta Mulas lighthouse was built by the Spaniards in 1895 to 1896. It was partially destroyed when the Americans attacked Puerto Rico on 1898. It was magnificently resotred in 1992 and stands as a welcome sight for anyone riding the ferry to get to Vieques.

    El Faro Punta Mulas is now a small museum, which exhibits a collection of artifacts and photos of the island's history, the natural history of the coast, and marine time history.
  • Beaches - What would any island in the Caribbean be without beaches, just a rock in the middle of the ocean I guess. According to many, however, there are few beaches on any island in the Caribbean that exceed the beauty of those in Vieques. Some of the more popular beaches include:

    • Green Beach - Is actually a series of small, disconnected sandy areas running south from Punta Arenas (Sandy Point), makes sense right? Since it faces west, it's perfect for capturing picturesque sunsets. Green Beach features the best land-based snorkeling on the island of Vieques. The shallow water reef at the south end of the island is the place to go.
    • Playa Medi Luna - You'll find Half Moon Bay directly east of Sun Bay. While still part of the Sun Bay balneario complex, it is physically separated. In a quiet bay, the soft wBlue Beachaves and shallow water make it perfect for children.
    • Playa Navío - About a half of a mile past Playa Media Luna you'll find Playa Navío, the third member of the Sun Bay balneario complex. While more isolated and usually nearly deserted, it is Sun Bay's best snorkeling site. Less protected than its neighbors, the waves pound against the shore making it dangerous for children but great for boogie boarders.
Flickr Creative Commons Contributor Today: Alejandra Quintero Sinisterra